The creation of the Janissaries corps was made possible by the successful wars of conquest that the Ottomans waged, which led to the accumulation of great wealth among the sultans. The appearance of the Janissaries is associated with the name of Murad I (1359 — 1389), who first assumed the title of Sultan and made a number of major conquests in Asia Minor and on the Balkan Peninsula, having established the creation of the Ottoman Empire. Under Murad, they began to form a "new army", which later became the strike force of the Turkish army and a kind of personal guard of the Ottoman sultans. The Janissaries submitted to the Sultan personally, received a salary from the treasury and from the very beginning became a privileged part of the Turkish army. The subordination personally to the sultan symbolized the “burk” (aka “yuskyuf”) - a kind of headdress of the “new warriors”, made in the form of a sleeve of a sultan's robe - they say, the Janissaries are at hand of the sultan. The commander of the Janissary Corps was one of the highest dignitaries of the empire.
The supply idea is visible throughout the organization of the Janissaries. The lowest unit in the organization was a branch - 10 man, united by a common boiler and a common pack horse. 8-12 offices formed an ode (company) that had a large company boiler. In the XIV century there were 66 od janissaries (5 thousand people), and then the number “od” increased to 200. The commander of the ode (company) was called Chorbaji-Bashi, that is, the distributor of soup; other officers had the title of "chief cook" (ashshi-bashi) and "water-carrier" (saka-bashi). The name of the company, the ode, denoted the common barracks — the bedroom; another division called "Orta", i.e. herd. On Fridays, the company pot was sent to the Sultan’s kitchen, where pilaf was prepared for the warriors of Allah (pilau, a dish based on rice and meat). Instead of a cockade, the Janissaries stuck a wooden spoon in front of their white felt hat. In a later period, when the Janissary corps had already decayed, rallies took place around a military shrine, a company boiler, and the refusal of the Janissaries to taste the pilaf brought from the palace was considered the most dangerous rebellious sign — a demonstration.
Care for the education of the spirit was entrusted to the Sufi order of dervishes "Bektashi". It was founded by Haji Bektash in the XIII century. All the janissaries were assigned to the order. In 94, the Orth was symbolically credited with the sheikhs (woman) of the brotherhood. Therefore, in Turkish documents, the Janissaries were often called the “Bektash partnership”, and the Janissaries of the commanders “Aga Bektashi”. This order allowed certain liberties, such as drinking wine and containing elements of non-Muslim practices. The teachings of Bektashi simplified the basic tenets and requirements of Islam. For example, she did not need a five-time daily prayer. What was quite reasonable - for the army on the march, and even during military operations, when success depended on the speed of maneuver and movement, such delays could be fatal.
The barracks became a kind of monastery. The Dervish Order was the only enlightener and teacher of the Janissaries. Dervish monks in the janissary units played the role of military chaplains, and also bore the duty of amusing the soldiers with singing and jesting. The Janissaries did not have relatives, for them the Sultan was the only father and his order was sacred. They were obliged to engage only in military craft (during the period of decomposition the situation changed radically), in life to be content with military booty, and after death hope for paradise, which was opened by a “holy war”.
At first, the corps was formed from captured Christian teenagers and 12-16 youths. In addition, the agents of the Sultan bought in the markets of young slaves. Later, due to the "tax in blood" (the system devshireme, that is, the "set of children of subjects"). They imposed on the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire. His essence was that from the Christian community into slaves of the Sultan every fifth immature boy was taken. An interesting fact is that the Ottomans simply borrowed the experience of the Byzantine Empire. The Greek authorities, experiencing a great need for soldiers, periodically conducted forced mobilization in areas inhabited by Slavs and Albanians, taking every fifth young man.
Initially it was a very heavy and shameful tax for empire Christians. After all, these boys, as their parents knew, in the future became terrible enemies of the Christian world. Well-trained and fanatical warriors who were Christians and Slavs (mostly). It is worth noting that the "slaves of the Sultan" had nothing to do with ordinary slaves. These were not slaves in chains that did heavy and dirty work. Janissaries could reach the highest posts in the empire in administration, in military or police units. At a later time, by the end of the 17th century, the corps of the Janissaries had already been formed mainly according to the hereditary, estate principle. And rich Turkish families paid a lot of money so that their children would be accepted into the corps, because there they could get a good education and make a career.
For several years, children, forcibly cut off from their parents' home, were spent in Turkish families, which made them forget their home, their family, their homeland, their family, and learn the basics of Islam. Then the young man entered the institute of "inexperienced boys" and here he developed physically and was brought up spiritually. There they served 7-8 for years. A kind of it was a mixture of the cadet corps, the military "training", construction battalion and the religious school. Devotion to Islam and the Sultan was the purpose of this education. Future warriors of the sultan studied theology, calligraphy, law, literature, languages, various sciences and, of course, military science. In their free time, pupils were used in construction work, mainly in the construction and repair of numerous fortresses and fortifications. Janissaries did not have the right to marry (the marriage was banned before 1566), was obliged to live in the barracks, silently execute all orders of the elder, and in the case of the imposition of a disciplinary punishment, he had to, as a sign of obedience, kiss the person who imposed the penalty.
The devshirme system arose after the formation of the janissary corps itself. Its development has slowed down during the turmoil that occurred after the invasion of Tamerlane. In 1402, in the battle of Ankara, the janissary and other units of the Sultan were almost completely destroyed. Murad II in 1438 revived the devshire system. Mehmed II the Conqueror increased the number of janissaries and raised their salaries. The Janissaries became the core of the Ottoman army. In later times, many families themselves began to give their children so that they would receive a good education and make a career.
The main weapons For a long time the Janissary had a bow, in whose possession they attained great perfection. The Janissaries were walking archers, excellent shooters. In addition to the bow, they were armed with sabers and scimitars, other melee weapons. Later, the Janissaries were armed with firearms. As a result, the Janissaries were at first light infantry, almost without heavy weapons and armor. With a serious opponent, they preferred to conduct a defensive battle in a fortified position, protected by a moat and light obstacles placed in a circle of cartoons (“camp”). At the same time, in the initial period of development, they were distinguished by high discipline, organization, and fighting spirit. In a strong position, the Janissaries were ready to confront the most serious enemy. Khalkondil, a Greek historian at the beginning of the 15th century, being a direct witness to the actions of the Janissaries, attributed the successes of the Turks to their strict discipline, excellent supply, and care for the maintenance of communication routes. He noted the good organization of camps and support services, as well as a large number of pack animals.
The Janissaries had much in common with other military estates, in particular, with the Cossacks. Their essence was common - the active defense of their civilization, their homeland. At the same time, these classes had a certain mystical orientation. The Janissary had a connection with the Sufi order of dervishes. And the Cossacks, and the Janissaries, his main "family" was fighting brotherhood. Like the Cossacks in the quarters and villages, so the Janissaries lived together in large monasteries-barracks. Ate janissary from one boiler. The latter was worshiped as a shrine and a symbol of their military unit. In the Cossacks, cauldrons stood in the most honorable place and were always nadraeny to shine. They also played the role of a symbol of military unity. Initially, the Cossacks and Janissaries had similar attitudes towards women. Warriors, as in the monastic orders of the West, had no right to marry. Cossacks, as we know, women were not allowed to Sich.
Militarily, the Cossacks and Janissaries were an easy, mobile part of the army. They tried to take maneuver, suddenness. In defense, those and others successfully used a ring defensive structure of carts - a “camp”, dug ditches, built picket fence, obstacles from stakes. Cossacks and Janissaries preferred bows, sabers, knives.
The essential feature of the Janissaries was the attitude to power. For the Janissaries, the Sultan was the undisputed leader, the father. Cossacks during the creation of the Romanov Empire often proceeded from their corporate interests and from time to time fought against the central government. However, their performances were very serious. The Cossacks opposed the center and in times of Troubles, and in the time of Peter I. The last major speech occurred in the time of Catherine the Great. The Cossacks for a long time maintained their internal autonomy. Only in the later period did they become unconditional servants of the “czar-father”, including in the matter of suppressing the actions of other classes.
In the Janissary evolution has gone in a different direction. If initially they were the most faithful servants of the Sultan, then in the later period they realized that "their own shirt is closer to the body" and after that the rulers no longer told the Janissaries what to do, but vice versa. They began to resemble the Roman guardsmen of Praetorians and shared their fate. Thus, Constantine the Great completely destroyed the Praetorian Guard, and destroyed the Praetorian camp as "a permanent nest of rebellion and depravity." The janissary elite turned into a caste of the “elect”, which began to displace the sultans of their own free will. Janissaries turned into a powerful military-political force, a thunderstorm and eternal and indispensable participants in palace coups. In addition, the Janissaries have lost their military significance. They began to engage in trade and craft, forgetting about military affairs. Earlier, the mighty corps of the Janissaries lost its real combat capability, becoming poorly controlled, but armed to the teeth to a gathering that threatened sovereign power and defended only its corporate interests.
Therefore, in 1826, the corps was destroyed. Sultan Mahmud II began military reform, transforming the army on the European model. In response, the capital janissaries revolted. The uprising was suppressed, the barracks were destroyed by artillery. The instigators of the rebellion were executed, their property confiscated by the Sultan, and the young janissaries were expelled or arrested, some entered the new army. The Sufi Order, the ideological core of the organization of the Janissaries, was also dissolved, and many of its followers were executed or expelled. The surviving Janissaries engaged in craft and trade.
Interestingly, the Janissaries and the Cossacks even looked like each other. Apparently, this was the common heritage of the military estates of the leading peoples of Eurasia (Indo-European-Aryans and Turks). In addition, one should not forget that the Janissaries were primarily predominantly Slavs too, even if they were Balkans. Janissaries, unlike ethnic Turks, shaved their beards and grew long mustaches, like those of the Cossacks. Janissaries and Cossacks wore trousers, similar to the yanicharsky "burk" and the traditional Zaporozhye hat with a shlyk. The Janissaries, like the Cossacks, have the same symbols of power - horsetails and maces.